The disease can destroy entire harvests and is thus a severe food security risk.
A centralised maize lethal necrosis disease screening facility established in Naivasha five years ago has released 15 disease-resistant hybrid maize varieties in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
After screening more than 150,000 maize germplasms, the team validated genomic regions in maize that confer resistance to maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND). They then transferred the resistant genes to 30 varieties adapted for Africa, using molecular marker assisted breeding.
The process, which would take up to seven years with conventional breeding, took three years. MLND is a viral maize disease caused by co-infection with maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) and other viruses such as the sugarcane mosaic virus.
It causes yield losses of up to 100 per cent, threatening food security in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and other endemic countries. Read more